San Antonio, TX—The Texas Public Policy Foundation today released a survey of private schools in the six largest Texas counties which reveals key facts regarding participation by private schools in a school choice program. Of most significance, a majority of private schools in Texas are willing to be part of a school voucher program thereby providing space for more than 82,000 students who exercise choice. More than two-thirds of these schools have tuition rates below $4,000 per student. Sixty-eight percent (68%) of these schools are willing to administer the TAAS test to their students.

“This survey proves that Texas private schools are ready to meet the challenge of educating all children under a school choice program, not just the best children from public schools” said Jeff Judson, President of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Judson went on to say “Private schools are willing to provide the public service of educating Texas children at a 20% discount from what public schools charge taxpayers. Research shows they often do a better job. So why not give them a chance to give over 80,000 poor children a better chance in life, maybe their only chance in life?”

Methodology: From December 11, 1998 to February 1, 1999 the Texas Public Policy Foundation completed 328 interviews from a total sample of all of the approximate 1000 private schools in the six largest metropolitan areas in Texas (Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, El Paso, Ft. Worth). 194 surveys were completed by mail and the remaining 138 interviews were conducted randomly by phone representing a 33% response rate.

Summary of Results

The following summary includes only schools who said they would definitely or probably participate in a school voucher program.

1. A large majority of private schools will participate in a school voucher program. Eighty-five percent (85%) of the schools with Kindergarten, 86% of the schools with elementary grades, 78% of the schools with middle school grades and 80% of the schools with high school grades said they would participate in a school voucher program.

2. A majority of private schools have a tuition rate below $4,000. Seventy-five percent (75%) of kindergarten, 69% of elementary schools, 72% of middle schools and 62% of high schools have a tuition rate below $4,000.

3. Most schools have additional seats currently available for new students. Seventy-three percent (73%) of schools with kindergarten, 91% of elementary, 91% of middle schools and 92% of high schools currently have additional seats available.

4. Private schools are willing to add additional seats beyond the current number of empty seats to accommodate new students. Sixty-eight percent (68%) of schools would add additional seats.

5. When the total number of available seats is combined with the number of seats schools said they would add if there were a school choice program, the survey revealed that there are approximately 82,450 seats available in private schools.

6. On a city-specific basis, the available seats combined with the seats to be added in each city are as follows: Dallas – 14,789; Houston – 28,577; Ft. Worth – 10,490; Austin – 6,511; El Paso – 4,730; San Antonio – 17,354.

7. A majority of schools are willing to administer the TAAS test to their students. Sixty-eight percent (68%) of schools will administer the TAAS test to their students if required. Seven percent (7%) already administer the TAAS test to their students.

8. The vast majority of private schools admit special needs children. Eighty-four percent (84%) of schools admit special needs students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, or other such disabilities and at tuition rates that are far below what public schools are paid to educated such students.

9. Most private schools use standardized test with their students. Ninety percent (90%) of private schools give standardized test to students. The Stanford Achievement Test (SAT) (43%) and the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) (28%) are the tests most often used.

10. Although only a small percentage of private schools (16%) provide transportation services to their students, a large majority (84%) either organize or encourage car-pooling among students.